The Unknown Girl (La fille inconnue)
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Cast: Adele Haenel, Jeremie Renier, Olivier Bonnaud
Language: French with English subtitles
Country of Origin: France/Belgium 2016 113 mins. (12A)
Official Competition Cannes 2016
Released by Curzon Artificial Eye
A doctor's surgery in the Belgian industrial town of Seraing, the setting for most of the Dardenne brother's films. The doorbell rings after hours. It's been a long day and Dr Jenny Davin's (Adele Haenel) conversation with her student intern Julien (Olivier Bonnaud) isn't going well. The bell rings again but it's ignored. The next day Jenny Davin learns that the caller, a local immigrant prostitute desperate for help has been found dead and the police have no way of identifying her. Guilt ridden she sets out to identify the girl who'll be buried in a pauper's grave. She'll disappear as if she never lived.
It's more complicated than assumed and Jenny Davin's sleuthing techniques aren't welcome by Inspector Ben Hamoud (Ben Hamidou) or by various characters she meets as she digs deeper. Although somewhat naive and out of her depth, persistence and a sense of personal responsibility and social conscience emboldens Jenny Davin with a quiet determination. Is the answer to the girl's identity to be found with some of her own patients?
With strong performances throughout, Adele Haenel offers a measured, restrained and subtle intensity to her role as the story unfolds as a carefully constructed compelling realist drama with Alain Marcoen's trade mark hand held camera and close up shots adding to that docu style realist flavour.